The GOTHARD Files: Corresponding with Bill

4 February 2014, 06:00



The Gothard Files: A Case for Disqualification


Dear Recovering Grace Reader,

As mentioned in our Gracenote yesterday, our leadership team had a brief period of correspondence with Bill Gothard in June of 2013. After much consideration, our team has decided to make the entirety of this correspondence public.

The following emails were exchanged between Bill Gothard and the Recovering Grace Leadership team from June 20, 2013, through July 1, 2013:

--- <[email protected]> Thu, Jun 20, 2013 at 12:25 PM
To: "[email protected]" <[email protected]>

Dear Committee,

In accordance with the earnest appeal of our Lord Jesus Christ in John 17:21, I request that we have a meeting for the purpose of reconciliation.

Through Christ our Lord,

Bill Gothard

Recovering Grace <[email protected]> Wed, Jun 26, 2013 at 8:45 AM
To: --- <[email protected]>

Dear Mr. Gothard,

Thank you for your email. We wanted to acknowledge its receipt and let you know that we are prayerfully considering our response. As we do so, could you please be more specific as to your intentions and purposes for such a meeting?


The RG Leadership Team

--- <[email protected]> Wed, Jun 26, 2013 at 2:44 PM
To: Recovering Grace <[email protected]>

Dear RG Leadership Team,

Thank you for your response to my request. It would be my sincere desire to do all that I could to make reconciliation with those who have been offended.


Bill Gothard

Recovering Grace <[email protected]> Thu, Jun 27, 2013 at 2:23 PM
To: --- <[email protected]

Dear Mr. Gothard,

One goal of our ministry at Recovering Grace is to nurture the healing process for thousands of students that have come through the ATI program. We realize that our differing views of key doctrines will make it difficult for us to ever come to a unified position with you on many fundamental issues; however, we would love to see true restoration and healing occur where clear offenses have taken place.

That being said, we are still unsure about your specific goals for this potential meeting. Please realize that we have a sizable network of volunteers from around the globe, so such a meeting could be a large and expensive undertaking.

For the sake of clarity, could you please answer the following questions?

1. If there is a meeting, who should attend?
2. To whom, specifically, do you seek to be reconciled, and for what specific offense?
3. What steps toward reconciliation do you want to follow should such a meeting occur?
4. What role do you envision Recovering Grace playing in your ongoing efforts toward reconciliation with those whom you have offended?

We welcome any other insights you might share.

In His grace,

The Recovering Grace Leadership Team

--- <[email protected]> Fri, Jun 28, 2013 at 7:43 PM
To: Recovering Grace <[email protected]>

Dear Recovering Grace Leadership Team,

I have a deep sorrow in knowing that there are those who have painful memories from their involvement with this ministry. It is important to me that these painful memories be resolved and reconciliation be achieved. I would appreciate meeting with several on your leadership team to discuss the best way to achieve this goal. I do believe Recovering Grace could have an ongoing part in this process.

Sincerely In Christ,

Bill Gothard

Recovering Grace <[email protected]> Mon, Jul 1, 2013 at 1:37 PM
To: --- <[email protected]>

Dear Mr. Gothard,

Thank you for your response. We certainly do consider this ongoing dialogue to be very important.

We agree with your assessment that there are many individuals who have “painful memories” of their involvement with the IBYC/IBLP/ATI ministry. This is an important acknowledgement on your part because painful memories do not simply happen, but are the result of very specific behaviors, teachings, and sinful actions. Due to your non­-specific answers to three of our four previous questions, we are unclear whether or not you are accepting responsibility for these issues. This leads us to believe that you may lack any specific plan for how you intend to repent and clear your conscience with those you have wronged. Without this, we believe that there is little that could be accomplished through a face­-to-­face meeting at this time. We are not closed to the idea, but we also do not wish to go into it without knowing that you have a plan for public repentance.

One specific area that needs to be addressed and repented of is the well­-documented and ongoing pattern of sexual harassment and emotional abuse of many young women with whom you have worked. A number of these girls (many of whom are now grown women with families of their own) have contacted us expressing the pain, confusion, and disillusionment that this behavior caused them. We have addressed this issue on our website, and we know that both past and present members of your Board of Directors have warned you against this pattern of sinful behavior, yet we continue to hear current stories of girls experiencing the same treatment.

We firmly believe that the first step towards reconciliation with those you have offended must be sincere repentance. While we respect that you feel sorrow over others’ painful memories, we do not believe that sorrow alone is sufficient to mitigate others’ pain. As Paul states in 2 Corinthians 7:10, a godly sorrow leads to true repentance. Until we see some evidence of this repentance and a desire to turn from your sin, our organization will be unable to assist you in reconciling with those you have sinned against. Reconciliation apart from repentance by the offender is, quite simply, impossible.

We truly understand and are not unfeeling as to how hard public repentance will be. We are not sharing these thoughts lightly or without much prayer on your behalf. We simply believe that this is the biblical way to resolve public sin, especially sin that has so deeply affected countless people across the span of your many years in ministry. As Scripture clearly teaches, “whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy (Proverbs 28:13).”

In His Grace,

The Recovering Grace Leadership Team

Our team decided that we should share this correspondence with you for two reasons:

1. We have heard from multiple sources that Bill Gothard is telling people that he has attempted to “reconcile” with the Recovering Grace team, and that we have refused to do so. This is patently false, and this lie, if left uncorrected, could potentially undermine the redemptive purposes of our website. As the correspondence shows, he did request a meeting for the purposes of “reconciliation.” But as we attempted to clarify his intentions, it became our opinion that, whatever his intentions were, repentance was not one of them. The last email was sent from us to him on July 1, 2013. We never received a response.

2. This correspondence demonstrates Bill Gothard’s long-standing tendency to avoid answering direct questions. Meg, the young lady who recently shared her story on Recovering Grace, also experienced this kind of deflection in August 2013, when she emailed Bill to ask if he had indeed asked the board for their approval of a marriage to her. She had learned of this from the wife of one of the board members, a woman who had been very close to Meg during her year in Oak Brook. In her initial email to Bill she stated that “as part of this process I would like to have confirmation from you personally that this in fact did happen. I am not sure that I am ready to discuss this matter in a conversation with you at the present time by telephone, hence my initial contact by email.” After an exchange of emails that lasted from August through December (each with her asking more pointed questions), she had received seven emails from Bill Gothard without receiving the yes or no answer she desired. It was Bill’s refusal to be honest and direct with her that finally convinced Meg that she should share her story publicly.


All articles on this site reflect the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of other Recovering Grace contributors or the leadership of the site. Students who have survived Gothardism tend to end up at a wide variety of places on the spiritual and theological spectrum, thus the diversity of opinions expressed on this website reflects that. For our official statement of beliefs, click here.


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